A Durham company developing an experimental treatment for cystic fibrosis released new clinical data today that officials say show the drug's promising potential.
Inspire Pharmaceuticals released the data at the American Thoracic Society conference in New Orleans. The results of a clinical trial show that the drug, known as denufosol, can reach the lungs' small airways and improve lung function.
That could improve denufosol's chances of becoming an early treatment for the disease, which is often diagnosed in infants.
"It is well known that cystic fibrosis lung disease begins in the small airways; however, there has been limited research into treatments that reach these areas of the lungs," said Felix Ratjen, a professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Toronto and a lead investigator of the drug.
Inspire now sells drugs to treat eye ailments and is developing more. The company also is making a big bet that it can expand into pulmonary diseases with the cystic fibrosis drug. The company expects to spend up to $70 million this year on research, with about 75 percent of that money going to denufosol work.
The company is conducting further clinical trials on patients, and if additional results are positive, expects to apply for Food and Drug Administration approval as soon as next year.
"There continues to be a large, unmet medical need for new treatments for cystic fibrosis," which effects more than 33,000 people in the U.S. and Canada, Inspire CEO Adrian Adams told Wall Street analysts in early May.
Inspire's shares fell 21 cents to $6.04 today before the latest clinical data was released this afternoon. The stock is up about 60 percent in the past year.
The full clinical data and Inspire's presentations at the New Orleans conference are available at the company's Web site.